A brief introduction to our plum, damson, bullace and cherry varieties
Plums and particularly damsons and bullaces were also to be found in hedges and woods. A small trade developed in the villages along the Severn, from where they were shipped to industrial South Wales,
A cut in tax and growth in sugar production in the colonies resulted in Britain in the 1850/60s having probably the cheapest sugar in the World. This encouraged the production of jam, the Blaisdon Red, and Yellow Egg plum found in woods and hedges in the Severn Vale met this demand.
On 10th February 1619 a dispute was heard in the Bishop’s Court between the vicar of Hartpury and Richard Nelme concerning the latter’s refusal to pay tithe on £4 worth of cherries. £4 in 1619 = £750 today, so evidently cherries were a significant crop at that time
Stones from Prunus avium (sweet cherry) and P. cerasus (sour cherry) were found in Nympsfield Long Barrow.
Heritage collections of plums, cherries and damsons are being planted in GOT’s Longney orchards to ensure these old varieties saved for future generations.
Heg Peg Dump was a popular dish in Gloucestershire, made with suet and plums/damsons and served on St Margaret’s Day (20th July).
Publications about Gloucestershire Plums
Charles Martell’s book Native Plums of Gloucestershire was published in spring 2018. It describes the stone fruit of Gloucestershire, discusses what is meant by the names plum, bullace, pruin and damson and when and how they arrived in our countryside and considers the Shadow Orchard and the emergence of fruit into the managed orchard. It complements our other books (also by Charles) on Gloucestershire’s Apples and Pears. Details of all these are available on the bookshop page of our main website.
Sample list of a few local plum varieties
Barley Plum, Blaisdon Red, Bristol, Damson Plum, Dymock Red, Frampton Magnum, Gloucestershire Violet, Groves Late Victoria, Jacob, Johnnie Moor, Jimmy Moore, Michaelmas Damson, Old Pruin, Rodley Blackjack, Rowles Pruin, Shit Smock, Smith’s Pruin, Sweet Damson, Velvets, Victor Christian, Winterbourne Magnum, Yellow Egg,
A list of Gloucestershire plums and their status
Status codes and notes on names
- Not endangered – more than 20 sites currently known
- Endangered, 10 to 20 sites
- Critical, 10 sites or fewer
|Blaisdon Red Plum
Originated in the village of Blaisdon. Was used for jam-making until the jam factories made use of freezing.
A rare variety found round Rodley and adjoining riverside areas.
This variety looks a bit like a Blaisdon, but with a slender stem. The only known site in Gloucestershire is the New Grounds, Slimbridge, where the tree was planted in the early 1900s.
|Dymock Red Plum
From the village of its name and still quite common. Shaped like a miniature peach.
|Frampton Magnum Plum
From Frampton Cotterell and was used to sustain local coal miners.
|Frampton Plum (synonym for Frampton Magnum Plum)|
|Groves Late Victoria Plum
Like a Victoria but is ready 10 days later.
Now known from one old tree at Rodley. Was previously used as a rootstock for grafting other varieties on to. It has a distinctive striated bark.
|Johnnie Moor Plum
An old variety from Cheltenham. It is now lost.
A small damson which looks exactly like a Sweet Damson – but with a bitter flavour.
Like an elongated damson. As well as eating it was used for dying cloth.
Small plum from Rodley, frequently used as a rootstock for grafting other varieties on to.
From the Arlingham peninsula. An underrated variety with a flavour between plum and damson.
Known from Chaxhill and Longhope areas. Small and greenish like a grape. Overindulgence could probably have dire consequences – hence its name.
Like an Old Pruin but a bit bigger, a bit rounder, a bit later and a heavier cropper. Was found in the Chaxhill area and is now lost.
Looks like a Michaelmas damson but is ready much earlier and is pleasant to eat.
|Victor Christian Plum
A large blue-black plum and a light cropper.